Coping with the loss of a pet never gets easier. I’ve grown up with dogs all of my life, but it wasn’t until college that I started my very own furbaby family. What began as one, turned into two, and later into three. This week I said goodbye to the last of my brood and it’s still breaking my heart.
While I am a totally reasonable person who understands the difference between the loss of a furbaby and the loss of a parent, spouse or child, I still consider it a loss of a family member because in my world that is exactly what they were.
Kayla for example, the first of my brood, had been with me since college. She was there to help and support me as I moved into adulthood.
Then came Kooter, whom I was asked to rescue from my new neighbors kids. Together they comforted and loved me unconditionally, through all my challenges, insecurities and victories.
Last to come into the fold was my gentle giant Hank.
Together these three brought me so much joy and comfort. Through failed relationships, moves, and travel, they were my rocks, never judging, only loving. They were everything.
While today I’m in a much better place than I was earlier this week, thanks to the love and support of understanding friends and family, I know that the grieving process continues. I asked to have his remains cremated so I know I have another wave of grief coming my way when I pick them up, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes. For now, I just wanted to take some time out to provide some words of encouragement for other grieving furbaby parents.
Here are some steps to consider to get you through the grieving process.
Be kind and patient with yourself
Allow yourself time to cry, grieve and accept offerings of condolence from family and friends. Don’t get caught up in the I should be over this mentality. The grieving process is something you get through, not over, and it’ll take as long as it needs to work itself through. So let go of that time frame in your mind and take cues from what your furbaby would have given you if he/she saw you sad – a ton of love, wet kisses and comfort for as long as you needed it.
Don’t get rid of their things all at once
I’m currently struggling with what to do with all the beds. Yes, each one of my furbabies had three beds, each staged in the rooms we hung out in the most. So now I have extra beds, his collar and bowls to deal with. What I’ve decided to do is to just move his bed from my bedroom into another room. That’s the one I’m finding the hardest to look at. I don’t think I’ll get rid of it, but do think moving it will keep it from being a negative reminder to me. I suggest you consider doing the same. And when we’re ready we can consider storing, donating, or discarding their items.
Memorialize your pet
I’m waiting on my baby’s ashes as we speak, but I know when I get them, I need to decide whether I’m going to add them to the little memorial shelf I’ve created for them or if I’m going to add them to the base of a tree, flowering shrub, etc. and create a memorial for them outside somewhere. They loved being outdoors, so that may be a consideration, but I’ll figure that out later. I just know that whatever I choose will serve as a tribute to their place in my life and I love that!
Have you ever had to cope with the loss of a pet? What helped you through?